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Why many culinary graduates may be unhappy

post #1 of 11
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Interesting read: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/wait-but-why/generation-y-unhappy_b_3930620.html, though written for Gen "Y", the theory clearly has applications to those who wonder why they are not Executive Chefs or Sous Chefs within a year after graduating.

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Chef,
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post #2 of 11

True! Thank you for passing this along, Pete!

 

There is nothing in the article that is new, rather it puts into words what many already know. There is a sense of entitlement. Either way, now we have to deal with/employ/otherwise motivate these employees. So, we know the issue. How do we make it work?

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Invention, my dear friends, is ninety-three percent perspiration, six percent electricity, four percent evaporation, and two percent butterscotch ripple

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post #3 of 11

       Good day fellow lovers of food , first point I would like to say is that the language that we are using to describe the education process may be flawed . Calling it chef school ( not by the school )when it is actually a cook school could possibly be confusing the young cooks what they will be when they graduate . The school will sell more spots in their classes if they can allude to a greater success . Ask any honest instructor what level you will be when you graduate and I bet he / she will not say executive chef . Chef de partie might be stretching it depending on the skill level of the kitchen . Most likely you would have to start by being a line cook and starting to hone your skills . If the young graduate thinks that this is not for them then they have clearly misunderstood the profession . A young cook needs to be in a non scholastic kitchen to see what it is really like .

      Do not forget that the young cook is a customer at the school such as a diner is at a restaurant , so the school and maybe the teacher are interested in your satisfaction . Your satisfaction will give the school a good reputation resulting in more customers ( students ) If you become a chef right out of school with limited work experience chances are it will be very difficult for you to keep that job as many situations that you have never dealt with will arise daily . What is needed is a continual mentoring process after graduation with a skilled pro . After some years of learning about ingredients and cooking , the graduate is now ready to learn all the systems of the kitchen such as scheduling , food and labour cost control , health and safety programs , human resources , time management , purchasing , labour laws , union contracts , refuse disposal , dishroom procedures and some others . When all of this is in your knifecase then you are ready to be a sous-chef . When you have all these skills under your belt then you will need to go beyond and become a leader and a visionary . This is why a culinary school 3 year program does not make you a chef .

     Making it work will require educating young cooks on realistic career paths and expectations . Using real life examples , the culinary schools should bring in chefs to talk about the realities of the industry along with ingredients and methods of preparation . This means that educators must be responsible for what is in the young cooks mind and take this responsibility seriously . The role of a mentor or teacher is not an easy one , there is a lot of ground to cover .

     The young cooks have a responsibility to absorb their teachings and pay attention when the instructors teach . Having realistic expectations for wages , conditions , hours of work , dedication levels , vacation time , days off will help with knowing what you are getting into . Do intensive research into any career before you dedicate a large part of your life and your money to it .

post #4 of 11

Why do they call them Yuppies? Isn't Yuppie a term meaning "Young Upwardly Mobile"? Shouldn't they be called Yummies? Especially when you take into account their penchant for mobile phone use, even while they are driving.

post #5 of 11

I LOVE this article!  So true.  lol

post #6 of 11

I have a question, actually a slew of questions.  It seems the majority of students graduating from culinary school are clueless and most, even in 3rd semester, can't even recognize some vegetables, even if it stood up and jumped in the pot itself.  Most have never even tasted a beautiful bulb of fennel, either.  

 

In my defense, I am a culinary student in my third semester, however, I am not your average student; I have been cooking for over 40 years.  Not "mom & pop" meals, but making my own gnocci, raviolis, carbonara, collards, steaming, poaching salmon, shark, roasts, barbecue rubs, wet rubs, etc.  I learned my knife skills (believe it or not) from Jacques Pepin and I've been practicing them everyday since 1979.  I've stood front of my spice cabinet and spent a good part of a Saturday, just tasting spices, trying to figure out what would go well with what.  I was curious about the effects of bay leaves, so I boiled two pots of potatoes, and put a leaf in one and compared the differences.  I've taken espresso powder along with other spices, both hot and sweet to make a dry rub for a slow roasted, pulled pork.  I played with my food; literally, and I now I want to do it professionally.

 

Culinary school has allowed me to perfect things I have always wanted to create like sauces made with wine reductions, consomme, savory breadpuddings, corn ice cream, and of course, safety.  I've always been safe handling cutlery, but I never used a hand guard on my mandoline at home, but I do now.  When I cut myself in school trying to get the last of a potato while in 2nd semester, I now realize the seriousness of "let that piece of potato go; it's not worth your hand."  No matter how experienced you are, always practice safety.

 

I listen to a lot of students in my class (3rd semester) brag about entering contests, working for catering companies, and starting a culinary club on campus.  They want to "teach people how to cut & cook".  Good Christmas!:eek:  If you heard them ask me if they could help me finish cutting the mirepoix for stock, you would have jumped through this computer screen, into my class kitchen because I had tell them to split the leeks and rinse the inside dirt out of the layers and they did not have a clue.  They were going to dump them into my stockpot as is. :mad: 

 

How in the world are these people going to start a club when they don't know how to wash a darn leek!!?  Another student thought she was knowledgeable of all things food, but didn't know what celery root was or tasted like.  Geez! :beer:

 

:laser: No wonder newly graduated students get a bad rap.  Last one, (almost promise) we were making french fries for the Bistro and one guy actually put a pot of water on and started blanching the fries in boiling water.  Get out!  He never read his On Cooking book or the instructions that you blanch IN OIL first.  Save Jebbus!

 

:chef:I hope when I graduate, I make the chef who hires me proud.  Even though I am 57 years old and take D...ned good care of myself, I will never be too old to stop learning...except from one of classmates. :crazy:


Edited by Etherial - 9/30/13 at 4:53pm
post #7 of 11

hello, ive been a line cook for 14 years and decided to go to trad school this year to work towards my red seal.

 

the guys response about schools trying to sell their program with words like chef and the like is accurate. but from my point of view school is important. I have been a kitchen manager, sous chef, supervisor, etc in my career but it never lasted because I didn't have an industry standard type of education.

 

I believe if I would have gone to school earlier in my life I would have been more successful and less stressed in this industry and probably would have been able to stay on in management roles longer.

 

school may not get you a chef job like advertised but when you do get there youl have a better grip on the demanding role for sure.

 

so in conclusion, from my experience, even after 14 years of being a good line cook, I would still recommend at least a community college or trade school education. its like the fog of war being lifted.

post #8 of 11
Quote:
Originally Posted by Etherial View Post
 

 

How in the world are these people going to start a club when they don't know how to wash a darn leek!!?  Another student thought she was knowledgeable of all things food, but didn't know what celery root was or tasted like.  Geez! :beer:

I know what you mean I graduated culinary school bout 7-8 years ago now, there were about 20-25 of us in the class. There is now 7-8 years later only about 4 my self included that are still cooking 3 that are Red Seal myself included. But part of the point I am trying to make here, is the culinary student think they are going to go off and make big money right away climb the ranks and become Chef within a year. Then they get out in the industry and realise ``holy crap its harder then it looks on TV``.  Then they loose there passion because there making peanuts compared to what they thought they would make and most of them change careers to make more money in a more timely fashion.

The students that go to culinary school don't realize the time and effort and huge amount of passion they have to put in to get anywhere some do don't get me wrong. That's not saying all culinary students aren't like that the ones like yourself Etherial that have grinded it out in the industry and go back to school to sharpen your skills and gain more knowledge is awesome. Eventually I want to go and taking a pastry chef course as baking is my weakness :( 

 

post #9 of 11

This is a great discussion and a good reality check for Gen Y culinary graduates like myself. I'm little different from my peers in that I'm more traditional in my approach to work. I loyal, honest, responsible, blah blah blah. But the fact is, I'm almost 29 and getting started in the industry later than most (yes, i realize people start even later) and I want to make the most of my time so that I can reach a mid-level position and make a decent wage for my family. I changed careers, leaving lucrative deals behind because I love cooking.

 

My question is this: I live in NYC and it seems that all the restaurant jobs I find online advertise that they want 1-year experience minimum. All of the places that don't need 1-year don't seem like places worth working (sandwich shops, fast-casual places, etc.). I have cooked on and off for short periods of time some years ago, most recently a 4-month internship at a fast-casual restaurant and want to get the most out of my first job. How does one find a place where you know you'll fit in well and can make a mental commitment to yourself to stay there for at least a year?

 

I learn quickly, am very presentable, and will break my back for you - but i want to know i'm getting the best experience i can.

post #10 of 11

Perhaps it boils down to this: Culinary school is a start; it is foundational and formative. But, a start, nonetheless. It is what is done with that start that will determine the path. Yes?

Invention, my dear friends, is ninety-three percent perspiration, six percent electricity, four percent evaporation, and two percent butterscotch ripple

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Invention, my dear friends, is ninety-three percent perspiration, six percent electricity, four percent evaporation, and two percent butterscotch ripple

My Author Page

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post #11 of 11
Quote:
Originally Posted by Jim Berman View Post
 

Perhaps it boils down to this: Culinary school is a start; it is foundational and formative. But, a start, nonetheless. It is what is done with that start that will determine the path. Yes?

 

 

Jim Berman, I cant agree more when. I was going for my red seal a Chef once told me that "you get your red seal, then what",.... he followed up by saying "its only the beginning " which really hit me, and Culinary school is the very start absolutely and getting your red seal is only the beginning. I find myself still learning and willing to gain knowledge and refine my craft as I am sure everyone on this page is as well.

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